Dependency injection on Android using plain Dagger and Kotlin in minutes

DI is a pattern to decouple your code. You don’t need to have a DI framework to handle the injection, but using such will make your application better. Things like singleton and initialization. Let’s see how to do that in Android using Dagger. Even you don’t what DI is, we gonna go through it pretty fast and clear. We will use Kotlin, plain Dagger and Android Studio here.

This is a setup with plain dagger, if you want to see how to setup with dagger-android, you should check this blog. But if you are pretty new to dagger. I strongly suggest to start with the plain dagger.

Here, we are starting from a new project created from Android Studio. The goal of the blog is to add application wide dependencies. Things like your HTTP client or SQL Lite things which you gonna use through most of your activities.

1. What is DI

It is a way that a class A could consume another class B as a dependency without worrying initialization details about that class B. Something like this:

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class Company(
private val staff:Staff
) {
fun getStaffName():String = staff.name
}

Of course, you can create the instance of staff inside this Company class. But what about there are different subclasses of this Staff class which requires different signature for initialization? Or the signature for the constructor just changes in the future. Then you have to change every where where this staff gets initialized. With the code above, the company don’t need to know how to initialize the staff, it just needs to consume.

Here, we say, the Staff class has been injected into Company class as a dependency.

And now you see the pattern here. You need to prepare these initialization of dependencies somewhere therefor you can use them later. So here, in dagger’s terms:

  • You declare how to generate these dependencies in @Module.
  • You use @Component to connect the dependencies with their consumers.
  • Then inside the consumer class. You @inject these dependencies. dagger gonna create the instances for from the @Module

2. Add packages in your build.gradle

First, open build.gradle in app, add the following settings in addition to your current gradle settings.

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apply plugin: 'kotlin-kapt'
dependencies {
implementation 'com.google.dagger:dagger:2.15'
kapt 'com.google.dagger:dagger-compiler:2.15'
compileOnly 'javax.annotation:jsr250-api:1.0'
}

What is that kapt? Well, Dagger requires an annotation processor. For Java you use the Groovy methods apt or the newer annotationProcessor, while you need to use kapt for Kotlin. And it’s been provided by that kotlin-kapt plugin.

3. Add some fake code

This fake MyRepo simply needs the context to start with, and will return some string based on the context. After knowing how to inject this, you should handle most cases with ease.

So, add a file named MyRepo.kt with the following code:

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class MyRepo(
private val application: Application
) {
fun getClassName():String = application.packageCodePath
}

Then we will use this MyRepo in the MainActivity to show the string in the console.

4. Create a Module to create dependencies

There is no such thing like auto-create, you need to manually write the creation and let dagger invoke it when it tries to inject the dependencies(consider this as auto creation). So, a @Module is for handling such cases where you write function to create all the instances.

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@Module
class MyAppModule(
private val app: Application
) {
@Provides
@Singleton
fun provideMyRepo(): MyRepo = MyRepo(app)
}

You see, we inject the application into this MyAppModule for it to create an instance of MyRepo. It is easy to understand.

  • @Module: to mark a class as dagger module
  • @Provides: to indicate this is where the dependency gets created, it’s been provided by this method.
    • The name of the method doesn’t matter. The type matters. provideBlahBlah is just a convention people use all the time when using dagger.
  • @Singleton: to indicate this instance gonna be a singleton which always gonna give the same instance of class.

5. Create a component to prepare the connection

Before you just use the @Module as a repo for all the dependencies. You need to create a dagger Component which behaves like a middle layer between the moduel and actual consumer.

Create a new file with the following code:

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@Singleton
@Component(modules = [MyAppModule::class])
interface MyAppComponent {
fun inject(target: MainActivity)
}

The code means, it will use the MyAppModule as a source module and inject MainActivity with it.

  • modules = [MyAppModule::class] this is an array, which means you can add more modules here as a starting point rather than just one.
  • You can add new method like fun inject(target: SecondActivity) to support new activity

6. Extend your own application class

Create a file named MyApp.kt with the following code:

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class MyApp : Application() {
override fun onCreate() {
super.onCreate()
}
}

And add it to the AndroidManifests.xml

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<application
android:name=".MyApp">

6. Initialize the module in the application class

Now you have the module, you have to initialize it somewhere in order to use it later. Consider this is an appllication wide module, we will do the preparation in the MyApp class.

Now modify your MyApp class to the following:

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class MyApp : Application() {
lateinit var myAppComponent: MyAppComponent
override fun onCreate() {
super.onCreate()
myAppComponent = initDagger(this)
}
private fun initDagger(app: MyApp): MyAppComponent =
DaggerMyAppComponent
.builder()
.myAppModule(MyAppModule(app))
.build()
}

Here you initialize the an instance of MyAppComponent by yourself. Remember the MyAppComponent is an interface? The implementation will then be generated for you.

Here, the dependency will be created in the initDagger method which will be invoked in the onCreate method.

Look at this .myAppModule(MyAppModule(app)), remember we declared a parameter for the constrcutor of MyAppModule? It needs an application, now have to do pass it.

You may notice that the Android Studio may tell you that unresolved reference DaggerMyAppComponent. It’s fine. You can just click the Build from the menu, and click Make module app from the dropdown menu.

Then a java file will be generated for you. And this problem will be resolved. If not works, go back to step 2 to see what you are missing.

The name DaggerMyAppComponent matters, you need to change according to your component name. If your application component is named as ABCComponent, then you need to change it to DaggerABCComponent. As well as that .myAppModule(MyAppModule(app)). You need to adjust the .myAppModule() to your case.

After that make module app, the .myAppModule will likely to have a deprecated warning. It’s fine too, it just indicates it gets no usage. After the following steps, it will gone.

7. Start to inject

So far, we have created the dependencies and initialized it in MyApp. Now we will inject it. Open the MainActivity.kt and add the following code:

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class MainActivity : AppCompatActivity() {
@Inject
lateinit var myRepo: MyRepo
override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
(application as MyApp).myAppComponent.inject(this)
super.onCreate(savedInstanceState)
setContentView(R.layout.activity_main)
println(myRepo.getPackagePath())
}
}

So, what happens here.

  • We create the property myRepo that will hold the dependency.
  • And the decorator @Inject will let dagger knows that you want it to be injected.
  • Then, in the onCreate, you start the injection with (application as MyApp).myAppComponent.inject(this).
  • And there is no magic here, the inject(this) already got its declaration in that interface MyAppComponent, remember? :)
  • Dagger will then look through all @Provides in @Module to find one function that has a matched return type.
  • Then you get your instance.

8. Run the app

You should see the output in the console:

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04-17 06:47:41.588 27291-27291/? I/System.out: /data/app/xyz.akbertgao.daggerkotlin-1/base.apk

9. Repo

You can find the repo here:
AndroidDaggerKotlin

10. End

There are more things to learn. But I think you have a good start. Hope it helps.

If you want to see how to setup with dagger-android which is another package from Google, you should check this blog. It designs to be more magic :)